Lea Eastman-Thompson (pictured) and Sarah Wade from Independents by Sodexo were the big winners at Sodexo's annual Salon Culinaire competition at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire yesterday (12 October).
The duo from the firm's contract with independent day and boarding school LVS Ascot walked away with the overall best in show title.
They also claimed the static best in show award for their entry in the static three-course plated category.
Independents by Sodexo, which works with a number of clients from independent, private and fee-paying schools, also saw its development chef Daniel Trace win the live best in show award for his entry in the Grand Prix category.
The inaugural safety and hygiene award went to Lee Moxon, catering manager at the Sodexo Corporate Services contract with Conoco Philips in Lincolnshire, while Alex Davis from Southampton Solent University won the National Barista Challenge.
More than 800 Sodexo staff members competed at the company's annual Salon Culinaire, which was attended by around 1,500 people.
It featured a number of live and static culinary competitions, a street food challenge, an innovation tent with SME suppliers and live demonstrations from chefs including James Tanner, Alyn Williams and Daniel Galmiche.
Sodexo Schools won the culinary team challenge, an inter-segment live competition to create a three-course meal, which took place at Ascot on Tuesday evening (11 October).
David Mulcahy, Sodexo craft director and Salon Culinaire organiser, said: "Once again the day has been a great of example of the culinary excellence and talent we have at Sodexo.
"Competition is the best way to develop as a chef, and Salon Culinaire gives our employees a fantastic platform to develop their skills."
He added: "Huge thanks goes to everyone involved who came together to create such a buzz on the day: we had 70 judges from inside and outside Sodexo, led by executive chef at the House of Commons Mark Hill, 100 suppliers who sponsor the event and exhibit their latest products, in particular Lockhart, which is central to putting on the show, and to all the clients and well-wishers who came along on the day to lend their support."
Sean Haley, Sodexo UK & Ireland regional chairman, said: "Sodexo provides a diverse range of services to clients, but central to that is food.
"When you come to Salon Culinaire you get an insight into the commitment and talent of our chefs. It's an excellent way to raise the bar and share best practice across the business, which will ultimately benefit our clients and customers."
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